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Bud  WIlliams
Stockmanship Journal
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Cost effectiveness of intensive grazing
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Stockmanship Journal

  Herd Behavior
Making a herd!

     Although cattle are considered a herd animal, we are used to seeing them spread out across a pasture. When cattle spread out like this it is in direct response to the stress we put on them. I have to admit, I discovered this by accident. After experimenting I figured out how to get cattle to stay together and graze as a herd. This has several benefits we don't normally think of. First it reduces selective grazing which helps control weeds. Second, it allows us to control where the cattle graze (without using extra fencing) in order to meet USFS and BLM requirements on grazing riparian areas.
It also allows you to follow grazing plans without utilizing a bunch of extra fencing.


     The picture below
is how we found the cattle the end of a five day stockmanship school on the Rancho Las Damas, in Chihuahua, Mexico. This ranch is a prime example of just how much forage can be made through holistic management. They are running twice as many cows as their neighbors on a third of the land.
The prior evening we set the cattle to graze in this general direction.

They could have spread out across the pasture like "normal" cattle, but instead chose to be grazing this close together. (In case you are wondering about all of the grass, they only had 8 inches at the time this picture was taken, with only 5 inches the year before.)

     Do not confuse this with conventional cattle placement. With conventional placing, cattle will stay in the same area, but be spread out. What I am doing here is allowing the cattle to slow down to a graze rather than actually stopping them. They will continue grazing in the same direction, go to water then come back and continue their grazing patern.  The video below shows the grazing stop and the behavioral changes in the cattle over the course of three days.

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